Saturday, June 30, 2001

Police: Church computer used for porn

Videos, pictures seized from rectory and office

By Janice Morse
Te Cincinnati Enquirer

        HANOVER TWP. — A Millville priest told police that he used his church's computer to download pornography and to contact juveniles over the Internet, according to a court document filed Friday.

        The Rev. Ken Schoettmer, who was placed on administrative leave last week after admitting he had sex with three teen-age boys, made the admissions to Butler County Sheriff's Lt. Greg Blankenship in a June 21 interview, according to an investigator's statement filed in Butler County Common Pleas Court.

        The court document did not say whether the priest had met in person with any of the juveniles he had contacted on the Web. The priest said the youths with whom he had sexual contact were not associated with Queen of Peace, the parish where he has been assigned since 1995.

        In a statement read to parishioners at Queen of Peace last week, the priest said he had “sexual encounters with three different teen-age males” between 1984 and 1999.

        Despite his admissions, he might avoid prosecution, authorities said. Two of the cases are beyond the six-year time limit for prosecution, Butler County ProsecuRobin Piper said.

        “It's very unfortunate that he could possibly slip through the cracks of prosecution due to the time frame,” said Butler County Sheriff's Maj. Anthony Dwyer.

        The church computer, dozens of videotapes, a scrapbook and several photos were seized this week from the rectory and offices at Queen of Peace, 2550 Millville Road.

        Authorities on Friday were still trying to locate the boy involved in the 1999 encounter, Maj. Dwyer said, as well as any more recent potential victims.

        Father Schoettmer's lawyer, Jack Garretson, said his client passed a lie-detector test in which he denied there were any more victims.

        “In terms of punishment you can get other than incarceration, he's pretty well got the max,” Mr. Garretson said.

        He describes his client as very remorseful, embarrassed, depressed and anxious.

        The Archdiocese of Cincinnati could take additional action against Father Schoettmer, but it's not clear what the options are until police complete their investigation and report their findings, Archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco said.

        If the priest is not criminally prosecuted, “that doesn't mean the issue goes away for us,” Mr. Andriacco said.

        He said a response team is being assembled to assist Queen of Peace parishioners.

        “This is a wound on the church, and it's very painful,” he said.

        Long-time parishioners Gene and Betty Brinkman, who live on Martha Lane, can attest to the hurt it has caused.

        Father Schoettmer had brought people back to church, and Sunday collections had increased, Mrs. Brinkman said.

        “Almost everyone loved him,” she said. “It's a shame and I'm sick about it.”
       Walt Schaefer contributed to this report.


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